Exactly What Happened When We Tried Hugh Jackman's '16:8 Diet' | Men's Health Magazine Australia

Exactly What Happened When We Tried Hugh Jackman’s ’16:8 Diet’

If the thought of a regimented eating plan and “time-restricted feeding” makes your stomach churn (or if you want to enjoy your food, no matter what time of day), then you may not want to read on.

A study presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting has found that having your dinner before 2pm can reduce hunger cravings for the rest of the day and boost your fat-burning reserves. While it may up the chances of a midnight salvage for scran, it means that you’re likely to be cramming all of your meals in a six-hour window in the name of a better body.

But is it really healthy? The research documented that the plan worked well on animals, but what happened when it came to humans? One of its earliest – and most famous – adopters is Aussie actor Hugh Jackman. To find out, we put a MH writer through Wolverine’s weight plan to see if he could slash fat from his body. Snikt!

RELATED: The 7-Minute Workout Hugh Jackman Uses to Build Muscle and Shred Fat



Lab Rat Profile

Name: David Morton, fasting sceptic
Challenge: To follow Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine meal plan
Claim: Cut body fat while you bulk up – quickly

When Hugh Jackman snarled his way 
onto our cover, I had an epiphany of sorts. The men who grace Men’s Health are always in incredible shape, but Jackman, I realised, had what I didn’t know I’d always wanted: size and strength that would be just as useful on the rugby pitch as it is impressive in the mirror;
 a shape that would suit my naturally ‘blocky’ body type. 
I wanted to be Hugh, as 
I’m sure you did.

His Wolverine physique was powered by an eating regime called 16:8 – a form 
of intermittent fasting (IF) where you eat nothing 
for 16 hours a day, then cram all your calories into the other eight. It clearly worked for Hugh, so I resolved to follow a 16:8 diet for 10 days to find out if it could for me – and if it will work for you, too.

Ate Hours

Research shows there’s more to the diet than mutant pecs. I.F. has been found to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease (American Society of Clinical Nutrition) and extend
 your lifespan (Medical 
. “Fasting also 
turns on several
 very cool 
processes,” says nutritional scientist Ben Coomber. “One is apoptosis or autophagy, which is the process of cell death. This means you clean out dead cells and dispose of them, clearing up toxins.” This all sounds rather good.

It doesn’t feel that bad, either. I skip breakfast (cups of coffee are fine) and then tear into half a rotisserie chicken at 11am, with baby spinach and a wholegrain roll. That weighs in at about 800kcal with more than
 50g of protein (almost 90% of my RDA). I go to the gym at 1pm, when I would normally eat lunch. I eat again around 3pm: high-street sushi or 
a sandwich. Dinner is down by 7pm and then the 16-hour stopwatch begins again.

Contrary to my fears, you don’t go hungry on 16:8. Odds are you sleep through five to eight hours of the fasting period anyway. Not eating breakfast at my desk means I just get on with my work in the morning, and I’m less ravenous than I thought I’d be by 11am. Counter to the ‘six or seven small meals a day’ theory, research by Purdue University concluded that larger, infrequent meals actually increase satiety, particularly when high in protein. You feel fuller for longer, despite fasting for two-thirds of every 24 hours. After six days I have lost nearly 2kg, even though I haven’t actively changed what I eat or how hard and often I work out. I’m not stronger in the gym but the surge of my 11am feed makes me feel more athletic without the sluggishness of a whole morning of snacking.

As with so many things in life – haircuts, holidays, pregnancies – 16:8’s success comes down to careful scheduling. If you’re an A-list action hero, your job depends on you staying in shape, and you can afford to work out at midday, every day. This makes the absolute most of the hormonal effect of your fasting period: “When you don’t eat, your muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin,” says Coomber. “So, when you do take on food, the muscle cell is as receptive as possible and you get a much greater anabolic response when you exercise.”

I only have lunch breaks 
to go to the gym, though, so sacrifice the possible cellular boosts to maintain a more normal day-to-day routine. In fact, my attempts to eat dinner at home with my girlfriend mean that the 16-hour fasting window gets pushed back bit by bit and twice during the test I have to reset the clock in order to avoid eating alone at 11pm.

Weigh In

Nevertheless, at the end of my 10-day experiment I’d knocked down my body fat by nearly 2%. Although not X-Men approved, the results are better than I had predicted. Especially as 
I didn’t cut out a single food from my daily diet and always felt full.

f you want to lose a bit of excess weight without mucking around, 16:8 is
 a scientifically sound and simple eating plan to grasp. But if you want to train hard during the week, socialise at the weekend and if you value eating meals with family and friends more than looking like Hugh, you should see it as short-term solution only. IF will kick start your physique – but 
if you want to build true Wolverine size, you’ll need to make intermittent fasting a regular thing.

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health UK. 

RELATED: What Is Intermittent Fasting And Is It For You?

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